Facebook is rolling a News feature that will ensure the safety of journalists in Nigeria, Kenya, Egypt, South Africa and other countries from attacks meted against them online.
Journalists who are on Facebook can register voluntarily on the platform in order to benefit from the safety and security features that will further protect their personal accounts.
Users will also be able to extend the protection to their linked Instagram pages and apply for Facebook’s blue badge verification.
“Journalists serve an essential role by keeping us informed and connected with the communities we care about. In the course of doing their jobs, members of the press can face threats both in the physical world and online.” Facebook said in a statement.
“We know that journalists and news media professionals are at a higher risk of online harm because of their occupation, and we want to provide better account protections for them.”
Journalists are mostly targeted with threats owing to the nature of their jobs. Their accounts risk getting hacked, while some are featured in doctored videos or images. Some get their personal information such as phone numbers or home addresses compromised online.
A survey carried out by UNESCO to determine online violence against women showed that Facebook was the least safe of the top five social media platforms. Nearly double the number of the women respondents termed it as “very unsafe” compared to Twitter.
The company is now incorporating the safety measures with hopes that it will be safer for journalists.
To register, a journalist must prove that they are affiliated with a Media house that is already registered on Facebook. They can do this by submitting five articles with their bylines where they were the authors or contributors. They can also submit a link to their biography on a staff directory page if one is available, or provide their professional email address.
The statement continued: “Journalist registration is the beginning of Facebook’s efforts to better identity and support journalists on our platform.
“While we’re starting with account protections, in the future registered journalists may also be eligible for other news-specific benefits, tools, and features.
Facebook is also rolling out the feature to some countries outside Africa for journalists living in the US, Canada, UK, Sweden, Germany, France and other countries
Facebook has taken the step as one of the measures to support media houses, which have decried dwindling advertising revenue due to the rapid spread of fake news online.
“We’ll continue working with news organizations, academics, and industry groups to explore other ways to support registered journalists.” the statement said.